Finite Bits of Beauty

Sometimes, I am tempted to stop a stranger in the grocery store, look them deep in the eye, and beg for an answer: “Why must the best things come to an end?! It’s agonizing. Is it this way for you, too? Or is it just me?” But instead, I smile and calmly say, “Excuse me, I just need to grab a bag of rice.” I know the truth. That breath-snatching ache somewhere between my throat and my gut that drives me to tears every time the most beautiful parts of life come to a close—it never should have existed. It wasn’t in the script. 

It was never supposed to be this way. 

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) People were crafted for eternity, but—at this moment—we are stuck inside time. How that happened is a long story, but it’s not just our physical death that hovers ahead. It’s a million tiny beauty-deaths that we feel over the course of a lifetime. Thankfully, there is hope. 

And it happened on Easter. 

So, every time my heart hurts because of a fleeting moment, or season, or era, or generation, I will think of all God has done to rescue all of us who call on him through his Son out of time and into eternity—into a place that time cannot steal. And for now, I will let these finite bits of beauty grab me by the hand and walk me up close to God. Sometimes they can last decades, but usually, they’re just moments that I wish would never, ever, ever end because they are flashes of life shot straight through with joy. They often look a little something like this:

Belly laughter 

The last sip of morning coffee

A sandlot baseball game on a late spring afternoon

Alabama Pines

March Madness

Rocking my baby, ‘cause babies don’t keep

Coach K’s career

Football season

Childhood

Gilmore Girls 

Tulips

Late nights with college roommates

Candles

That sweet ageless place between wakefulness and dreams

Sunsets

Recess

Chicago Cubs in 2016

Seinfeld

Christmas morning

Christmas Eve

Outdoor dinners with old friends (cafe lights strung skyward)

Scent of a newborn

Gentle first light that tiptoes into day

Snow days

A dog’s 14ish years

Campfires under the stars

A book that makes the reader feel as if he knows the characters

This Grizzlies season

Julie Andrews’ voice

Cheers

My children in my lap

Endorphins—at the end of a run

A wedding night

Grandparents

Chocolate chip cookies in the oven

Road trips

Writing a story

Pizza on Friday nights

Worship services thick with the presence of God

Hugs

One school year with a teacher who cares

Grizzlies that won our hearts, but had to move on

Life before the iPhone

Bike rides

Summertime 

The Masters

Dick Van Dyke in both Mary Poppins movies

‘Til death do us part

Print journalism

Arriving at the destination 

Afternoon naps

…a lifetime

He has also set eternity in the human heart. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

All photographs are courtesy of Gene Cashman.

Candace Echols is a Midtown resident, wife, and mother of five. She has written for StoryBoard’s Page One Writing Workshops, and writes in quiet moments from her yellow chair. Candace recently published her first book, the children’s book Josephine and the Quarantine.

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